School Lunch Hero Day!

Written by Role Mommy Wing Mom, Danielle Feigenbaum

school_lunch_hero_day_high_res (1).jpg This Friday, May 1st is School Lunch Hero Day! The unsung heroes of our kid’s cafeteria are the men and women who work so hard to ensure our children are well-fed during the school day. We all need to take a moment to say thank you and realize that the school lunch staff interact with our sons and daughters on a daily basis. All across the country the lunchroom workers are helping educate our children on healthy eating habits as well preparing healthy food to serve.
It is so important for our kids to keep their energy up during the day, and lunch helps give them the nutrition they need to focus and excel. I know there are many thankless jobs out there – but let’s all take some time on Friday to say “thank you” to the lunch staff! There are many ways to get involved. You can host a celebration like many schools will, or you can have your kids and their class make cards! Here is a link to some fun activities and cards you can print out. As you can see below my kids had fun doing the maze and making their own comic about the adventures of School Lunch Hero. Tell your friends and tell your kids and this Friday make the day of a special lunch hero in your school!
You can also check out Tray Talk’s Facebook page, where they have lots of great stories from schools all over the country! www.facebook.com/TrayTalk
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www.schoollunchheroday.com
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Get in the Game! Learn about School Lunch Nutrition and Possibly Win Some Money

Written by Role Mommy Wing Mom, Danielle Feigenbaum

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Today kicks off National School Lunch Week! Created by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, National School Lunch Week is a weeklong celebration of the school lunch program. School Nutrition Association members celebrate in their cafeterias every year with decorations, special menus, events and more. The 2014 theme is “Get in the Game with School Lunch.” It’s about encouraging kids to find a balance between healthy eating and physical activity. This year’s theme recognizes the importance of eating well and getting active!
If your kids are in school full time, are you packing them lunch each day or are they buying their lunch in the cafeteria? How much do you really know about the food at your child’s school? You may think you are packing them a healthy lunch, but what if you could save time each morning by not packing lunches and they could get a really healthy lunch right at school?!
We need to start educating ourselves about what is going on in the school cafeteria. If you need some help getting started, visit the School Nutrition Association website for tool kits and lots of great information. Get in touch with your School Nutrition Director and ask questions! How can you get involved? My kid’s school raised funds to start a garden where the kids can plant and grow vegetables. When you involve kids from the beginning of the process, they will feel proud of their accomplishment and maybe even try the veggie once they have picked it. Wouldn’t that be something? Some communities will go apple picking and then donate the apples to the school. There are so many ways you can make a difference in your child’s school nutrition. The combination of serving healthy foods, educating kids on the importance of eating healthy food, making it fun and getting kids to be more active is a win for everyone!
Whether you are super involved in your kid’s school or have no idea what’s going on, this week is the perfect time to learn more about school lunch nutrition! Wouldn’t it be nice to win some money while you’re at it? TrayTalk.org is a non for profit that provides hot topics articles, success story profiles and facts on school meal programs nationwide. Visit the Tray Talk Facebook page this week for a chance to win a gift card. They will have 5 days of $100 giveaways for followers that participate by answering questions and submitting info on your children’s favorite healthy foods or school experiences. One winner per day – go to the page now for your chance to win and educate yourself and spread the word to fellow parents on the importance of School Lunch Nutrition!
Please take visit this wonderful online resource community of parents and school nutrition professionals. http://www.schoolnutrition.org/NSLW2014/About/
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Back at School: Creating a Healthier Next Generation

Written by Role Mommy Wing Mom, Danielle Feigenbaum
snaLogo.jpg Many parents in this country are obsessed with their children’s nutrition, and rightfully so! We know the sad statistics about childhood obesity being on the rise. Speaking for myself, I want my kids to have a well balanced diet and be active so they stay fit. Since school started this year, I decided to stop feeding my kids a sugary breakfast so I give them a hard boiled egg, banana and cereal high in fiber and protein. I want to make sure their brains are sharp, ready to learn and keep them full until lunch. Speaking of lunch, school lunch plays an essential role in our kid’s lives and I think parents and educators need know what is going on in our school cafeterias.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I attended the School Nutrition Association Conference back in July and it really opened my eyes to everything that goes in to getting the right food into school cafeterias as well as teaching the kids to eat it and even like it. School districts around the country are getting on board with this initiative. From the USDA: “Through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by the First Lady and signed by President Obama, USDA made the first major changes in school meals in 15 years, which will help us raise a healthier generation of children. The new standards align school meals with the latest nutrition science and the real world circumstances of America’s schools. These responsible reforms do what’s right for children’s health in a way that’s achievable in schools across the Nation.”
I think some parents (like myself) feel that they can pack a nutritious lunch for their child, but if your home is anything like mine in the morning, it is so hard to pack their lunches at all, let alone make it healthy! Beth Teitel wrote an article for the Boston Globe called At lunch, home-packed may not mean healthy… “The nutritional shortcomings of school lunches have been a matter of national debate for decades — but the focus has been on what schools serve, not on what moms and dads pack in the lunch bags. Now Tufts University researchers have looked inside all those bags — and discovered that none of the lunches met all five National School Lunch Program standards, which emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low- or nonfat dairy, and only 27 percent of the lunches met at least three of the goals. There are many ways to go wrong with lunch, but one of the insidious is what she calls the “at least” strategy. “Parents make the ‘at least’ compromise,” she said. ” ‘At least’ chocolate milk has calcium. ‘At least’ chicken nuggets have protein. If you think of the cumulative effect of the ‘at least’ mindset, we’re teaching our kids the exact opposite habits we want them to have. We’re dumbing down their diets, and more importantly, we’re pushing their taste buds towards junk and away from healthy foods.”
This is such a good point, I find myself doing this all the time. As hard as I have tried, my ten year old and seven year old are pretty picky eaters. When my daughter was at sleep away camp this summer she tried so many new foods and ate healthy foods she never tried before because that’s what all the girls at her table were doing. Sometimes peer pressure can be a good thing 😉 How great would it be to have that at school as well? All the kids trying the healthy new item that’s for lunch, together. We wonder why European children eat so much better? I saw an article that showed the amazing lunches they serve to their children at school… French school lunches show how to teach kids healthy eating habits. That is all they know and that is what they eat.
Not only do we need to get healthier foods into the cafeterias (which the SNA is doing a great job with), we also need to educate students on why they should eat healthy. Let’s get creative! Some schools have tried colorful signage in cafeterias, creative food presentations (fruit cut into shapes, etc.), taste-test events, student cooking contests, themed-days, and nutrition curriculums incorporated into the classrooms. You can also help at home–read through the menu with your kids, discuss the healthy options, ask them about the new foods they tried at school, maybe reward them with a cool sticker if they try a new food.
For information about cafeteria menu items, nutritional information, or ingredients in your child’s school lunch, contact your school Cafeteria Manager. He/she can answer questions about everything from meal preparation methods to waiting time in line. For more detailed questions, the Cafeteria Manager may refer you to the Nutrition Director who oversees cafeteria operations and menu planning for the entire school district. The Nutrition Director’s contact information is usually available on the district website.
Let’s all get on board and do what we can to help keep our kids healthy!
The School Nutrition Association launched Tray Talk as a way to provide parents with information about healthy school meals and offer tips on how to get involved in school nutrition programs. Join the conversation at Facebook.com/TrayTalk
For more great information please visit: www.schoolnutrition.org

Creating a Healthier Next Generation

Written by Role Mommy wing mom, Danielle Feigenbaum

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Last week the School Nutrition Association held their Annual National Conference in Boston, MA. I was lucky enough to attend the conference where I met so many amazing people and learned a ton about providing schools with healthy food. Who knew how much actually goes into getting healthier foods into our kid’s schools AND trying to figure out how to educate them to eat it! So many kids across the country are not exposed to different fruits and vegetables at home. It’s great to have healthy food in the schools, but we also don’t want to waste it – we want the kids to eat and enjoy it!
healthyplate.jpg The huge exhibit hall had hundreds of companies that are working on lowering the sugar and sodium amounts in their products as well as meeting new government standards for whole grains. In the upcoming 2014-2015 school year all grains served for breakfast and lunch should be whole grain-rich (at least 50%). Some of the pizza companies are working on making their crusts with more whole grain, but keeping the look of white flour so kids will eat it. There were also companies who are creating ways to get younger kids to try new foods and learn about staying healthy. They have fun stickers you can receive that say “I tried it!” when they try something new (what kid doesn’t love stickers?) And this fun plate that shows all the different food groups you should be eating at each meal.
I had the pleasure of being escorted around the exhibit floor with two amazing District Supervisors of School Nutrition. First, Debbi Beauvais from Rochester NY. I had no idea how much actually goes into planning the food and the payment schools received for each kid. There are many challenges when you live in an urban area, unfortunately it is very expensive to get lots of fruits, veggies and non prepackaged food. On the other side was Director Doug Davis from Burlington, VT who participates in a Farm 2 School initiative to bring local produce to the cafeterias. I love the idea of kids being involved in knowing where the food they eat comes from. If we can get the kids outside planting and visiting farms, maybe they will be more likely to try new and healthy foods. We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and The Burlington School Food Project serves free breakfast to all students. Debbi and Doug both had a ton of knowledge regarding school nutrition and as a parent of two picky elementary school children, they really opened my eyes to what is going on in our school. I was very inspired to get more involved and I think parents everywhere should know exactly what is going on with their school’s breakfast, lunch and snack.
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The SNA and USDA want to create a healthier next generation. Kids spend so many hours in school and need to be better educated about why eating healthy is so important. Thanks to updated standards kids are now eating 10% more veggies and 23% more fruit at lunch. But this is only the start, we need to help schools get the proper equipment and funding to make healthier foods as well as the education component.
The School Nutrition Association launched Tray Talk as a way to provide parents with information about healthy school meals and offer tips on how to get involved in school nutrition programs. Join the conversation at Facebook.com/TrayTalk
For more great information please visit: www.schoolnutrition.org